You may have heard this advice in the past: if you're having allergies, eat some raw honey. Raw honey is often said to be able to ward off allergies, but the mechanisms behind it are frequently left unexplained. In truth, this advice does have a scientific basis.
It Has to "Bee" Local Honey
Why is honey said to cure allergies? Many allergies are due to pollen in the air. Allergies occur when foreign particles, such as pollen, are falsely recognized as a threat. Your immune system reacts with immediate hostility, causing a myriad of negative reactions.
Local honey is intended to be used much the way a vaccination is. Local honey allows you to consume small amounts of pollen and other particulates, which means that your body slowly gets used to it. By eating local honey, you will be rendering yourself immune to the effects of local pollen.
However, that means two things: the honey has to be local and it also has to be raw. Local honey is the only honey that will contain pollen that you're interacting with day-to-day. This means that if the honey is from even two hundred miles away, it may be useless to you. Raw honey is unfiltered and still contains pollen; filtered honey may not have the particulates that you need.
Honey Needs to be Eaten at a High Dose
As noted, it's really the pollen in the honey that is helping. In studies conducted, individuals who ate a small amount of local honey didn't see any significant impact. Those who did eat large amounts of local honey did see some beneficial effects.
Some honey vendors do sell high pollen honey. Some even sell mixes of pollen. You can inquire with your local honey makers. Pollen is often strained out as a by-product of raw honey, so it is available. However, before its health effects were known, there were very limited applications for it. Consequently, it's not frequently bottled and sold.
Larger scale studies do need to be conducted regarding honey as a treatment, and it should be noted that no children under the age of one should ever be given honey. This is because honey may increase the chances of botulism in infants. If you have a very serious allergy to pollen, eating honey can also be dangerous; test small amounts first.
If you're having seasonal allergies, raw honey probably can't hurt. Though it's only intended to help in a narrow band of cases, it may in fact have beneficial effects; the logic is there. If you have very serious allergies, though, you may want to see a doctor as well. Look for local honey from a company like Brighton Wool & Honey Co.